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Film Review: Die Hard 2

Updated on September 14, 2016


In 1990, Renny Harlin released Die Hard 2, adapted from the 1987 novel, 58 Minutes, by Water Wager. Starring Bruce Willis, Bonnie Bidelia, William Atherton, Reginald VelJohnson, Franco Nero, William Sadler, John Amos, Fred Thompson, Tom Bower, and John Costelloe, the film grossed $240 million at the box office and was nominated for the Award of the Japanese Academy for Best Foreign Film, winning the BMI Film Music Award.


John McClane is at Washington Dulles International Airport waiting for his wife Holly. However, the government has extradited dictator Roman Esperanza from Val Verde and is set to land at the same time. This causes a group of rogue soldiers loyal to him to attempt a rescue and take over the airport’s control systems, leaving all the planes in the air hostage.


While it employs a a fairly enjoyable plot, Die Hard 2 isn't quite as good as the first film. Where the first film gave audiences a practically unwilling John McClane who recognizes the absurdity of his situation, but still does save the day out of necessity, this film essentially turns that around. Here, McClane still recognizes how absurd the situation is, especially since it happens the following Christmas and spends a scene calling attention to it, it seems here that he’s more than willing to immediately jump in. The first film presented the audience with cops that were unable to do anything at first and this film replaces that with cops who are unwilling to do anything until it’s too late. Originally, McClane was an ordinary guy thrust into an extraordinary situation, but here, he’s essentially become the average action star. It practically destroys the point of the first film, which is further ruined by the other sequels. Further, McClane is made out to be a guy unwilling to change and understand modern technology and is being forced to, however, this isn’t fleshed out enough and doesn’t have any bearing on the end product.

That’s not to say the plot perpetrated by the villains isn’t good, especially in its setup. One group poses as utility workers in order to get into a church so they can create an air traffic control center and another group poses as painters and repairmen so they can ambush an oncoming SWAT team as a diversion. It all converges to make a diabolic plot of shutting down an entire airport just to make a statement and rescue a dictator. Colonel Stuart also makes it perfectly clear that he doesn’t care about anyone or anything other than his mission as he lets a plane full of people crash and burn to prove that he’s not playing around.

However, a plane that becomes a fireball even though there’s barely any gas left is just one instance of the film failing to get anything related to aviation correct. Stuart shuts down Dulles so he can prevent any interference with his plan. While this creates the necessary drama and suspense (and it’s good suspense at first), what if fails to get right is that the FAA requires airplanes to carry enough fuel to fly their route as well as divert to a close by major airport in case of an emergency. And though it’s stated that the closest other airport is shut down, there are others close by, including the nearest US Air Force base. And the FAA requires them to let said planes in distress land. These regulations essentially mean that the film never should have happened in the first place.

There's also another way the film's plot should have been foiled before it ever began: the weaponry. McClane explains that a gun pulled on him was a Glock 7 and made of porcelain, meaning that it wouldn't show up on any x-ray machines and it's an explanation that allows the villains to be able to get into the airport and go about their schemes. However, even if it is porcelain, the gun would still show up in an x-ray machine as there are still several metal components within the gun. This and the aforementioned problems with getting aviation related plot points correct exemplify the lazy writing that went into this film.

3 stars for Die Hard 2

the postings on this site are my own and don't necessarily represent WNI's positions, strategies or opinions.


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